Someone was in Bruce Wayne's office, and there was no graceful way to avoid them without making it obvious that he knew they were in there. There was a smell in the air like mulch and roses.
He had no frame of reference for what would constitute a normal amount of things to notice, and so chose to err on the side of oblivious moron.
If there'd been a smell like marzipan dipped in bleach, he might have chosen differently.
"Heya, Mister Wayne," Harley Quinn greeted, sitting on his desk. She waved as much with her feet as her hands. He closed the door behind him.
Bruce considered his response. Hopefully his momentary indecision with regard to his facial expression could pass for surprise, or confusion, or fear. "Hello, Dr. Quinzel."
"Don't worry," she said. "I'm not with Jay no more."
"She's with me," Poison Ivy said.
"Hello, Dr. Isley."
"I really prefer Ivy."
"Dr. Ivy," he corrected.
"Doncha love the way he says doctor?" Harley asked Ivy.
"Charming," Ivy said. She did not sound charmed.
"I told her we oughta come talk to ya," Harley explained, "on account of you're a real nice guy an' all."
"I was just going to kill you," Ivy added.
"Thank you. For not doing that."
"Isn't he just like a puppy?" Harley asked, pressing her hands to her cheeks.
"You can't keep him."
"Was there a reason you were going to kill me?"
"You don't know?" Ivy asked.
"I could guess, but I don't want to suggest reasons for you to kill me."
"Now I'm curious," Ivy said, not quite a threat.
He'd walked right into that one. "People have been known to want to kill me because their girlfriends find me attractive," he suggested.
"That's presumptuous of you," Ivy said.
"No," Harley said, "we've talked about it before."
"Extensively," Bruce said. "While I was tied to a chair."
"Don't say it like that!" Harley protested. "You're makin' it sound like I sexually assaulted ya."
"Once! One time, that happened. That wasn't my idea, anyway, that was all Jay. I didn't wanna do that."
"Ya see?" Harley asked Ivy, gesturing to Bruce. "See how nice he is? I kidnapped him an' grabbed his dick, an' now he's apologizin'."
"Yes, I see," Ivy sighed. "Your company is building a research lab on top of endangered flowers."
"That's not possible," Bruce said. "We've only got one project preparing for construction, and the land was surveyed."
"And the survey found monkey flowers, and then covered it up."
"That survey was done by consultants working directly with the Department of Natural Resources, no one had access to the initial results but me."
"Your consultants were bribed."
"Oooh." Harley shook her shoulders. "Did ya see how he got all intense all of a sudden?" she asked Ivy. "Ya could be real scary if ya put your mind to it," she informed Bruce.
"Aw, nope, there it went. Puppy again."
"You didn't authorize the bribe?" Ivy asked.
"Obviously not. Do you know who did?"
"No," Ivy said. He should have guessed. No one was dead. "Who stands to benefit?"
"No one," Bruce said. "There are three alternate sites we can use without delaying the project, I know every member of the construction team and they know they're compensated well because they don't cut corners, I have a reward program for whistleblowers, my researchers are paid as well for failure as success, every one of my employees has undergone a thorough background check, there should be no incentive for anyone to lie to me."
"Yanno," Harley said, "for bein' as careful as ya are, it's surprisin' how many Wayne Enterprises folks end up becomin' supervillains."
"I am aware."
"You must have missed something," Ivy said.
"Obviously," Bruce said. "May I use my desk, or...?"
"I suppose," Ivy said, moving out of his way. Harley continued to sit on his desk, and made no move to leave. Since she wasn't actively blocking the keyboard or monitor, he was willing to settle.
He paused in the middle of bringing up the relevant project files. Trying to use his computer with Ivy looking over his shoulder was deeply uncomfortable. He didn't think he could get away with asking her to stand on the other side of the desk.
"Of the four locations chosen as options for the project," he said, bringing up a map that had been put together during the planning stages, "we picked this one because..." He frowned. "It didn't have any major advantages. A lot of little boring reasons, nothing worth the risk of bribing a public official."
Harley was leaning dangerously backward to look at the monitor. Then she rolled sideways, one knee bent as she risked falling into Bruce's lap. It was a pose better suited to the top of a piano. "Ain't that by the wreck of the Monty Red?"
He glanced at her. He immediately looked back at the monitor. It was safer than trying to keep his eyes above her neckline. Which was, regardless, too low to be considered a neckline in anything but name.
"The what?" Ivy asked.
"A shipping freighter that went down in the thirties," Bruce said.
"It was taken down by a Loch Ness monster!" Harley said.
"I don't think that's the name of a species," Bruce said.
"A huge one," Harley continued, undeterred. "They were secretly transporting Nessie eggs and that's why it attacked."
"That sounds like a bad movie," Ivy said.
"A bad book," Bruce corrected. "Because it was. The SS Monty Red went down in a blizzard, and no one thought anything of it until about twenty years ago, when someone wrote a terrible science fiction novel about it."
"Now there's people on the internet that think it's real," Harley added.
"How... dumb," Ivy said, resting her arm over the back of Bruce's desk chair to look closer at the monitor.
The door to his office opened. "Mr. Wayne," someone began.
Bruce looked toward the door. So did Poison Ivy, leaning cozily over his shoulder. So did Harley Quinn, who had to look backward, draped as she was over Bruce's desk.
The woman in the doorway froze. She absorbed the scene in front of her. "I'll just come back later," she suggested.
"That would probably be best," Bruce said.
She shut the door behind her.
"She seems nice," Harley said.
"That's Eileen," Bruce said. "She's purchasing manager."
"Is she going to call the cops?" Ivy asked.
"Almost certainly," Bruce said.
"Who's in charge of this project?" Ivy asked, pointing to the proposal still on the monitor.
"I'm not telling you." Her arm curled around his shoulders, her fingers wrapping around his throat, nails digging into his skin. Her touch had the burn of capsaicin. "It's not relevant, regardless," he added.
"Then tell me."
"I'm not giving you a hit list."
"Why is it not relevant?" Harley asked.
"The man in question is fifty-seven, he has a doctorate, he's got decades of experience in his field. I've known him for years." Ivy still hadn't let his throat go.
"Why do those make him irrelevant?" Harley asked. Her eyes were all wide, her lashes fluttering. She was an expert at feigned ignorance. Bruce had the sudden uncomfortable awareness of what it felt like to be the Joker.
"Dr. Quinzel," Bruce said, "please stop trying to spare my ego."
"I just don't see how any of that stuff matters," Harley said.
"You're suggesting that an intelligent and well-respected man believes that a fiction novel about a lake monster was actually a non-fiction exposé being suppressed by the U.S. government."
Harley fluttered her eyelashes again.
Bruce shut his eyes. He sighed. He buried his face in his hands. "Fuck."
Ivy let his throat go. Harley reached out to pat his forearm. "There, there."
"It's so fucking stupid," he complained.
"I know, I know."
"I took so many precautions."
"Idiot-proofin' is a lot harder than it sounds."
"Now will you give me his name?" Ivy asked.
"No." Bruce rubbed both hands over his face. "I have a contact in the FBI I'll be getting in touch with. Bribery of a public official and possible criminal conspiracy charges."
"Ya know an FBI guy?" Harley asked.
"This isn't the first time this has happened." Bruce looked to Ivy. "Will that be all? Or is there something else I can help you with while you're here."
Ivy frowned. "This seems too easy."
"I get that a lot."
"Not from me ya don't," Harley pouted.
"That's because you scare the shit out of me, Dr. Quinzel."
"I've seen the papers," Harley said. "Ya go out with Wonder Woman sometimes. She seems like she'd be into rough stuff."
"A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell."
"Fine," Ivy said, "we'll go."
"Actually," Bruce asked, "can you do something for me?"
"My friend's daughter is a fan," he said, with a meaningful nudge of a notepad and pen.
"... fine." Ivy picked up the pen to scrawl a signature. "Should I make it out to anyone in particular?"
Setting down the pen, she lifted the notepad to finish it with a kiss. She tore off the page, and offered it to Bruce.
Bruce looked at the little red lip stain. "Hypothetically," he said, "if a teenage girl were to kiss this, would she be poisoned?"
Ivy hesitated. Then she snatched the paper back. "That was just a test page," she said.
"Ya can use mine," Harley said. Ivy used the previous paper to wipe the remaining lipstick from her mouth, then took the tube Harley offered. It was a darker shade of red than her usual, but more pink than what Harley wore. It was unclear how many tubes of lipstick Harley kept on her person at all times. Ivy signed another page, kissed it again, then inspected her handiwork.
"There," she said, handing it to Bruce again.
"Thank you," he said.
"Nice seein' ya again, Mister Wayne," Harley said, sliding off his desk and pressing a quick kiss to his cheek.
"Thank you for not tying me to anything this time, Dr. Quinzel."
Poison Ivy bent down to his level, eyes narrowed with suspicion. "No man's as nice as you pretend to be," Ivy said.
"Sometimes I drink juice straight from the carton."
She kissed the cheek that Harley hadn't. The layer of makeup meant the touch didn't burn.
When Commissioner Gordon burst into Bruce's office, Harley and Ivy were long gone. Bruce was sitting at his desk, his chin propped on one hand. He had different colors of lipstick on each cheek. His skin had turned an angry red along his neck in the shape of a hand.
"Mr. Wayne," Gordon greeted. "You look like you've been having fun." He continued scanning the office, as if one of the women might have been hiding behind a statue. "Harley stop by to say hello?"
"We've gotten to know each other so well over the course of multiple kidnappings," Bruce said, "that she thought I'd want to meet her new girlfriend."
Gordon paused. Then he snorted a laugh, holstering his gun. "You know, Mr. Wayne," he said, "from anyone else, I wouldn't believe it."
"I'll choose to take that as a compliment."